ISU President Al Bowman testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday morning. (Photo Courtesy Illinois State University)
By Paul Morello
SPRINGFIELD - Illinois State University President Al Bowman joined officials from other state institutions in Springfield Thursday to update lawmakers on the school's fiscal situation.
Bowman spoke in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The pension discussion was a priority, and Bowman said said ISU could survive if the institution had to pay a portion of employee's pensions.
"The institutions should have some skin in the game," he said. "If the cost shift was phased in over a period of time so we could adjust, we could make it work. Obviously it would have some upward pressure on tuition but we're big enough and with enough planning time we would be able to adjust."
Bowman also highlighted the fact that the state appropriation for ISU was $92 million in 2003 and has since dropped to $74 million.
Despite the drop in state funding, Bowman said the university is still in a good fiscal position.
"I think that's because of our ability to hold the line on expenses, keep debt low, a strong student demand and a good balance sheet resulted in that stable rating," Bowman said.
On Wednesday, Moody's Investors Service dropped ISU's credit outlook to negative, but the school's actual credit score remained intact.
Three other schools had their credit outlook downgraded by Moody's - University of Illinois, Southern Illinois and Western Illinois. Four other schools were dealt a credit rating drop - Eastern Illinois, Governors State, Northern Illinois, and Northeastern Illinois.
State Sen. Jason Barickman also honored Bowman during the hearing for his work during his presidential tenure.
Bowman will retire this year.